You online – Your Website!

So, you’ve found my site. For a mere $10 a year (11.95 if you’re using a dot-com), you can have your own Top-Level domain name, and you can commandeer your presence online, and for just a bit more than that (we’re talking roughly $20 a year, if you do it correctly), you can have a website with your personal touch. Like this one!

Lets go back to the start, and examine WHY we’d even want our own website. Now, for SURE, I’m in the IT world, so you may think that I just have this site because I’m a nerd. You may be right, but I don’t think that a simple, cost-effective online calling card is a bad thing to have for ANY professional. Linkedin doesn’t count, nor does a profile on dice.

So, of course, it’s a little… I don’t know… smug (might not be the best word, not sure) to give someone a business card with “jesse@jessewolcott.com” on it. Wow, you own your own domain name, aren’t you a bigshot? I don’t use that email address (It doesn’t exist, so I don’t mind the spam that’s about to inundate that address). The age-old question: What happens when you google your name? If you have an uncommon name, likely there will be remnants of your internet presence all over the place. I’ll give you some examples, of course.

For me, there was a politician with the name “Jesse P. Wolcott.” Haven’t looked him up enough to know his policies, or whether I should be outraged. As far as image searching (using Google Images), the following result:

http://s3.dmimg.com/pictures/users/309216/1317736592_profile.jpg

http://a2.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/profile01/148/bb7496381cc948a0bc80770810455431/p.jpg

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-W7eKbUFX2TE/TiCmqrFF1uI/AAAAAAAAAS0/wK0wiofx7pc/s250-c-k-no/Screen%2Bshot%2B2011-07-15%2Bat%2B4.44.09%2BPM.JPG

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-ZsvzB8TJuLg/TrrXzj5eqPE/AAAAAAAAAOo/e8UkzCbBhVg/s0-d/MarsEditImages

Now, I’m going to let you just look at those, and take heed that I’ve done everything I can to “clean up” my presence online. Yet these got through! These are from MySpace (seriously, ugh!), Google Plus, and DailyMile.

I’m not embarrassed or ashamed about ANY of these pictures. The DailyMile picture is easily explained as the practice of Jowling, and its on a site that keeps track of how much I run. Not embarrassed.

However, if Facebook changes its privacy policy, or security settings, and some of my pics from college get lose, what happens if a potential employer sees a picture of me drinking in college? Or something else that could potentially be misconstrued without a proper context? The point is, you want to make sure that YOU control your online presence. If someone is searching for “Jesse Wolcott,” this website is the 6th website you see. I’m working on that… Its called “Search Engine Optimization.” I’m not going to catalog how to fix that if your name is “John Smith.” I would recommend differentiating yourself in another way if your name is extremely common.

Ok, lets get started. First things first, you need a domain name. I use Dreamhost (not a referral link, but if you want one, let me know). You can register your domain there for cheap. If you’re serious about your website, and want it to be good, they can also host your site for roughly $9 a month. I pay for a hosting plan with Dreamhost, and they have been almost always up.

If you would like a cheaper option, I can help with that too… But it may not be as reliable, and it is definitely harder to set up! Perhaps I’ll do a mirrored site tutorial in the near future.

Once you’ve registered your domain and picked your hosting plan (the lowest one is probably fine. Should be roughly $9 a month), enter your Dreamhost control panel, and select “Wordpress.” Simple blogging software with TONS of features, plugins, and support for pages, etc. Its what I use!

After you follow the instructions, you’ll receive an email that your site is ready to go, with instructions on how to complete the setup. After that, you login to www.yoursite.com/wp-admin, and get to creating! Make your posts describe what you’re doing in your life that is interesting. I’m constantly getting into dumb stuff (like arduino, etc), and I like to catalog my adventures.

You might be saying “But.. Jesse… I don’t have anything interesting that I’m doing.” Well, that is your first problem! Go find some trouble to get into!